LiveTour de France - stage 18 as it happened

Summary

  1. Vincenzo Nibali wins stage to extend race lead
  2. France's Thibot Pinot second to move second overall
  3. Rafal Majka third to win King of Mountains jersey
  4. Jean-Christophe Peraud up to third overall
  5. Stage 18 - 145.5km Pau to Hautacam

Live Reporting

By Chris Bevan

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Time for me to call it a day - and it's been another good one for Vincenzo Nibali, who moves ever closer to his first Tour triumph. Here's the stage report.

Thanks for keeping me company over the last few hours, and hope to see you again for that fast finish on Friday.

Friday - stage 19

Tour de France

On Friday, stage 19 takes the race 208.5km from Mauburguet Pays du Val d'Adour to Bergerac. Much to the relief of the 165 riders left in this year's Tour, it is mostly flat!

"After three tough days in the mountains, the sprinters will come back to the fore," says Team Sky's Geraint Thomas.

"I expect a bunch sprint in Bergerac."

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Porthos from London: Chapeaus off to Nibali. Looking forward to watching the podium scramble over the coming days!

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

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We know who is wearing yellow and we also know who is staying in polka dots. Poland's Rafal Majka has an unassailable lead in the King of the Mountains category as the race leaves the Pyrenees.

1. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff) 181 pts

2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 168 pts

3. Joaquim Rodriguez 112 pts

Yellow Jersey

Classification

AP

So, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali continues his procession to Paris - extending his lead to ensure he will spend his 16th day in the yellow jersey on Friday.

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Aramis from Newbury: Nibali's dominance has been hugely impressive. Not even the ghost of Chris Froome would be able to catch him on this showing.

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Andy in Armagh: Absolute dominance from Vincenzo Nibali. Incredible stuff.

Stage 18 result

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana), 4hrs 04min 17sec

2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +1.10

3. Rafal Majka (Pol/Tinkoff), +1.12

4. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R), +1.15

5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC), same time

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It is not over for second and third and Saturday's time trial is shaping up to a a monster of a ride. It is between Pinot, Peraud, Valverde and Bardet in terms of who is going to be able to step on the podium.

"Valverde has a chance, he has improved his time trialling and he is going to be in with a shout if he can pedal the mountains out of his legs on Friday's flat stage.

"I would bet on Peraud finishing on the podium but unless Pinot has done something with his time trial he's going to find it difficult to hold off Valverde.

"I think it is done for Bardet but three Frenchman in top five is great."

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Andrew Harvey: What a performance from Vincenzo Nibali! Super-human stuff from 'Nibbles'! Wonder if he'd have been this dominant with Froome and Contador still in?

The race for the podium

Yellow Jersey

Classification

Alejandro Valverde has slipped off the podium. He started the day in second place but ends it in fourth. It is not over for him yet, though, The Spanish time trial champion can claw back some of those seconds in Saturday's 54km time trial from Bergerac to Perigueux.

As discussed, nobody is in the same postcode as overall leader Vincenzo Nibali, though. He has the race sewn up.

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 80hrs 45mins 45secs

2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ.fr) +7.10

3. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +7.23

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +7.25

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"It's been an incredible power display by Vincenzo Nibali. He is definitely a worthy winner of the Tour de France. He has been out there attacking at any opportunity.

"He's still got a couple of days to look after himself but he has a strong team to do that and he is an aware rider. I hope nothing happens to him. In terms of pure performance he is the best rider here."

Hugs and smiles for Nibali at the finish. And Thibaut Pinot is already on a warm-down bike. He's only been up two of the hardest hills of the Tour de France already today. Give the lad a rest.

Polkadot Jersey

Classification

Thibaut Pinot sprints past Rafal Majka to take second place. Majka doesn't mind, because he has that polka dot jersey for keeps. But how far back is Alejandro Valverde?

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 18

The Italian zips up his yellow jersey and lifts both arms skyward as he crosses the line. That's his fourth stage win, and the Tour is is in the bag.

The race for the podium

So, Nibali has 500m to go to the finish line. He has won this stage and is on his way to winning the Tour, but behind him who will steal a few seconds in the race for the podium? Rafal Majka will not care, because if he finishes in the top four, he will wrap up the King of the Mountains category.

Magnus Backstedt

Swedish cyclist on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

"Valverde drank from a bottle given to him by a fan. You've got to be careful with what you take from spectators unless it's water you're going to throw over your head. I was always told not to drink anything that you are given from someone you don't know. You just don't know what you're ingesting."

Vincenzo Nibali has a lead of about one minute and 15 seconds on the four riders behind him (Peraud, Van Garderen, Pinot and Majka). He is inside the last 2km of this climb up to the finish line at the summit of Hautacam.

The race for the podium

Alejandro Valverde's recovery continues but his group is still 30 seconds behind. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing). Those three have just passed Rafal Majka.